Lassus: Prophetiae Sybillarum

By Fitch, Fabrice | Gramophone, November 2015 | Go to article overview

Lassus: Prophetiae Sybillarum


Fitch, Fabrice, Gramophone


Lassus

Prophetiae sybillarum. Angelus ad pastores ait. Ave Maria. Dixit Dominus. Magnificat superaurora lucis rutilat. Quern vidistis pastores. Videntes stellam

Vocalconsort Berlin / Daniel Reuss

Accent [F] ACC24307 (49' * DDD)

Of Lassus's larger-scale cycles, the Prophetiae sybillarum is among the trickier ones to bring off. It sits in a limbo between sacred and secular that can be so perplexing to modern-day sensibilities. The Latin texts are concerned with the sacred, but only indirectly, and Lassus's famous use of chromaticism (nowhere more so than in the opening bars, constantly trotted out in historical surveys) is probably meant to suggest their semi-mythical provenance. Although the Prophetiae now boasts a sizeable discography, this hybrid status may explain why no one recording has managed it entirely convincingly.

Vocalconsort Berlin's approach is most comparable to The Brabant Ensemble's for Hyperion, though the deeper acoustic imparts a 'bigger' sound. From a choral and technical perspective they may well offer the most rounded and vocally satisfying of the available alternatives. Both here and in the motets that complete the recital, Daniel Reuss's direction tends towards smooth lines and seamless transitions, an approach that obviously corresponds to the ensemble's sound but does little to bring out the essential strangeness of the Prophetiae. …

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